The National ADD Association estimates that 4%-6% of the population has attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. If a child is left untreated, ADHD and other disruptive behavior disorders (such as oppositional defiant disorder) can lead to poor academic achievement and various mental health disorders.
However, a new study published November 4 in JAMA Pediatrics indicates that intervention in a pediatric environment can improve parenting skills and mitigate disruptive behaviors
A team of researchers from Tufts Medical Center converged on 11 pediatric practices in the Greater Boston area. After administering the Infant-Toddler Social-Emotional Assessment Scale, they focused on 273 parents of children aged 2-4 years who acknowledged disruptive behaviors in their preschoolers. Some parents were enrolled in a 10 week program sponsored by Incredible Years Parent Training, while others were put on a waiting list. The training program was led by a research clinician and a member of the pediatric staff.
After 10 weeks, those parents enrolled in the program showed greater improvement in parenting; behavioral improvement among the children was also indicated.
The team, led by Dr Ellen C Perrin of the Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at Tufts emphasized that pediatricians and their staff should consider analyzing their younger patients for disruptive behaviors and encouraging intervention on behalf of parents. Currently, fewer than 25% of children suffering from behavior disorders receive treatment.
Core Features of ADHD and ODD
According to the National ADDA, the following core behaviors present in children with ADHD over a period of time:
- distractibility, or an inability to stay on task
- impulsiveness, or difficulty in delaying gratification
- hyperactivity, characterized by excessive activity and restlessness)
Oppositional defiant disorder is characterized by a pattern of tantrums, incessant arguing, anger and disruptive behavior toward parents and other authority figures.